Friday, November 25, 2011

Late Light in Portsmouth

Portsmouth is a really great town on the New England seacoast. It's the biggest port in the state of New Hampshire.

I've always loved this place. It is old. It has great alleys, buildings and streets. It's a destination for visitors...

...and the biggest town in my neck of the woods.

So when I was feeling like painting in a downtown setting last week...

I headed for Portsmouth and set up my easel right behind my car in front of the post office.

There is very limited parking in Portsmouth as it is a real busy little hub... I painted fast ! Today I had two hours to set up, paint and break down.

I was more than lucky with the weather; it was quiet, sunny and warm.  

This spot picked me. I was going to set up in Market Square to paint the people walking around.
Pencil sketch,4x6 

No way!  While driving down the one way street into the square I saw this view and yelled "Stop - this is it !" 

I moved fast. After my initial pencil sketch, I put my brush into paint and laid the design in.

The streets were humming with cars and people. I had to concentrate on what I was doing. 

It was nice to have my car parked next to me. It created a buffer and I only had to make sure I didn't step out into traffic in the road.

Everything down the street into the square was back-lit and side-lit as the sun went down in the south west. 

Canyons... was all I could think of.  I've only painted canyons during the brief time I visited out west.

Obviously it had a big effect on me.  When I'm in cities with tall buildings they remind me of the canyons in Arizona, Wyoming and Utah. 

Yes. This is unusual for me to be seeking out a man-made landscape.  Buildings?   And lots of buildings? 

Yet it seemed like the place to be even with the parking restrictions in the prime painting locations.

It's like I'm backing into my subject matter these days instead of heading straight at it.

I'm not thinking "Oh I'd like to paint buildings."

It's more like, "What does that place look like in the evening or after dark ?" 

I've found that it doesn't look like I think it will !

You can never tell.  Lighting makes all the difference 

I think I have a perfect place and great view picked out discover later as the light changes that I have what I want for 15 minutes if I'm lucky .

And now after one quick outing on the streets of Portsmouth I realize I'm barely scratching the surface...

...of the hundreds of paintings waiting to happen here.

Of course I need to have those great lighting conditions for some of them.

And it doesn't hurt to have a warm feeling for this lovely old port.
Daniel St Sketch, 12x12 oil on canvas panel

Friday, November 18, 2011

Water, Color & Town Dock #1

I am painting every day in the late afternoon.  I've been doing this for a few weeks. 
I can't resist the subtle colors of twilight. The winter solstice is almost here with its beautiful velvety mood and twinkling night time lights.
8X6 Sketch pen, watercolor

After many nights out I was bound to run out of steam at some point... it happened the other day at the town dock in York Harbor. 

This was a day time painting excursion...
4x4 Study, pen, watercolor

I arrived, looked around for a subject to grab me and... all I wanted to do was sit somewhere and sketch what was in front of me. 

I find sketching a very relaxing, zen-like experience.  The pen or pencil slides and floats smoothly on the surface of the paper. 
4x6 Sketch, pen, watercolor

I slow down to capture what is in front of me...... which is often a subject arriving or departing for somewhere else.

I found that if I am sitting down I can just look at something and imprint it in my memory. 

I haven't got a clue as to why sitting down makes such a difference.
4x6 Sketch, pen, watercolor

When I paint I always stand up. I can't paint sitting down...I like to keep moving, walking around, looking at what I'm doing from different perspectives. 

On a day like today it was perfect to sit and observe from a quiet spot.  

It was also very warm and comfortable for a mid November day. 

I sketched in black ink and added color with watercolor pencils.

Did I forget to mention that it also started raining every now and then?

I was sitting under a pine tree.

It didn't seem to be raining on me so I just ignored it, sat there and continued sketching.

Sure enough after a few minutes the rain stopped.

My sketchbook pages were dry with just a raindrop here and there.
8x6 Sketches, pen

The boats started coming in, the lobstermen were pulling up to the dock with the day's  catch.

This harbor isn't very crowded now. In the summer it has a lot of pleasure boats.
4x6 Sketch, pen, watercolor pencil

Now you can see the working boats easily, they are the only ones left on the moorings. 

Its peaceful and there is plenty of parking all along the two town docks.
6x8 Sketch pen

The bustle of summer is over. The big summer cottages along the river are mostly empty now.

I actually like it more than in summer. September, October and November are my favorite months on the coast.
4x6 Sketch, pen, watercolor pencil

When the snow and cold arrive I paint really beautiful pictures but its usually too cold to hang out like today.

The season is changing really fast, almost daily I notice variations in the landscape.  It's really so nice to take a day and slow it way down. 
4x6 Sketch, pen, watercolor